Next up in Rochester’s Rich History: Rochester’s Early Environmentalists

Mark your calendars for November 21! Travel back in time to the early days of environmentalism in Rochester when the Burroughs Audubon Nature Club was formed. This presentation features early twentieth century photographs of local parks and other natural areas. Come learn about the influence of John Burroughs on the naturalist movement in America, and discover the natural world of Rochester as seen through the eyes of its citizens over 100 years ago.


New York Times archives imperiled by flooding

Published in: on October 23, 2015 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Discovering Your Roots: International Edition



Published in: on October 14, 2015 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Join us for German-American Heritage Month


Published in: on September 29, 2015 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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September Kick-off (Tip-Off?) of a brand-new season of Rochester’s Rich History!

Attention sports fans! If you haven’t heard of NBA 1951 champs the Rochester Royals, you REALLY need to check out Pat Farabaugh’s FREE talk about the team’s history this Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Rundel Auditorium. Throw on a pair of Converse and join us for the kickoff to the 2015/16 season of the Rochester’s Rich History series, “The Rochester Royals and the Legacy of Maurice Stokes and Jack Twyman”!

Farabaugh - Image 3

New Genealogy Series: Think Genealogy It’s Saturday


Click here for the Fall 2015 schedule

Published in: on September 1, 2015 at 5:17 pm  Comments (4)  

Get ready for a new season of Rochester’s Rich History!

Love Rochester? Love history? You’ll love this — FREE monthly programs on our city’s history. With presenters who are experts on their subject matter, the programs feature a wide spectrum of Rochester-related topics. From the influence of the Dossenbach family on music in Rochester to a chronicle of the city’s Latino community, we’ve got your history covered.

Join us every third Saturday in the Rundel Auditorium for some Flower City stories you haven’t heard!


~Cheri Crist, Librarian

Published in: on August 26, 2015 at 2:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

From the Vault: Civil War Shenanigans

We can all agree that war is hell. Union soldiers finding themselves in enemy territory far from home and hearth were faced with the blast of artillery shells, unspeakable carnage on the battlefield, and primitive living conditions. In order to cope with the madness, soldiers made use of any free time in ways not always in keeping with their fine Christian upbringing.

The following excerpts are from a ledger used at a Union prison in Alexandria, Virginia, that documents the transgressions of errant Union soldiers during an active few weeks between April 13 and May 16, 1864. Each entry lists the prisoner’s name, regiment, company, charges, charging official, and remarks.

Although the ledger isn’t attributed to a specific prison, it is most likely from what was known as the Franklin and Armfield Office, which until 1861 was known as the epicenter of the domestic slave trade. Notations across the top of pages in the ledger denoting prisoners held in the “Slave Pen” further enforce the likelihood of its origin.

Alexandria slave pen, c. 1861. From courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Alexandria slave pen, c. 1861. From courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Charges noted in the ledger ranged from the popular desertion, drunkenness, and rioting to less-frequently perpetrated crimes such as insolence and forging a leave pass. Fewer still were instances in which visits to the local cathouse became unruly enough to warrant the attention of an arresting officer, as seen in this entry.


No fewer than five soldiers were accused of rowdiness in a house of ill fame on this day.

Neither were local madams immune to the law, as evidenced by two women, both named Mary Griffith, who were locked up not only for running a brothel, but for doing it on the Sabbath.


The charges for the two Marys:

The charges for the two Marys: “Disorderly House & keeping open on Sunday.”

Several pages of the ledger are smeared with mud and debris as though the pages themselves are speaking to the violence they’ve seen. One can imagine a newly-arrested and angry soldier tearing it from the recording officer’s hands and flinging it to the ground.



War is hell, indeed.

~Cheri Crist, Librarian

Published in: on July 17, 2015 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Exhibit in Local History!

We are launching a new exhibit in the Local History and Genealogy Division this week. Entitled “Vietnam Veterans: Serving Then and Now,” the exhibit focuses on the experiences and contributions of local veterans from the Vietnam War era. It is sponsored in partnership with the Central Library’s Science & History Division and the local Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 20.

We will be hosting a reception on Saturday, June 6, at 1pm in the Local History Main Hall (2nd floor, Rundel Memorial Building), followed by a lecture, “Telling the Stories of Rochester’s Vietnam-era Veterans,” in the Rundel Auditorium (3rd floor, Rundel Memorial Building) at 2pm. For more information, please see the flyer below. Hope to see you there!


~Michelle Finn, Deputy City Historian

New scanning equipment touted

Local genealogy and history blogger Dick Halsey has been spending quite a bit of time in the Local History & Genealogy Division lately making use of our new scanning equipment. He wrote about his experience in his blog this week:

Anyone can use the equipment for free. Be sure to check it out.

Published in: on May 18, 2015 at 9:49 am  Leave a Comment  

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